My background as a player is not as extensive as many. I never had a coach. I never played on an organized indoor team like most players. I didn't grow up on the beach. Much the opposite. I grew up playing soccer in a mountain town. I played rec leagues and then began tournaments. I worked my way up to finally playing in a few AVP qualifiers along with, while the AVP tour was re-orging, a few of the Jose Cuervo Beach Tour qualifiers.
Along the way I met a guy by the name of Ryan Mariano. Call it dumb luck or whatever, but I just happened to play against him in a tournament in Phoenix. I met him in the finals, took my beating like a man, and somehow gained his respect. When he decided to retire from the AVP, dumb luck struck again as he moved to my small hometown of Flagstaff, Az. He and I started an indoor volleyball club together and then RPM Sand was born in the living room of his house while we were roommates there.
I had been volunteering my time for years coaching indoor and trying to give back to my community. I was coaching at one of the local high schools, coaching for the local club team, and running my own camp in cooperation with the high school that i coached for. My camp was for athletes who couldn't afford to play club so that they could get some high quality training too. I charged just enough to pay for the insurance the school required to run the camp and that was it.
Since the days of that camp and volunteering at the local high schools, I have gotten a ton of experience at all different levels of the sport. Ryan took me on as his assistant in building RPM Sand. I worked side by side with him for the last 7 years day in and day out soaking up as much knowledge from him as I could. Personally now I have won 3 national championships as a juniors coach. I have worked with 60+ girls that have gone on to play at division 1 schools in the NCAA including multiple All-Americans and the current record holder for wins at LSU. I have gotten to do scouting for the likes of Sarah Sponcil, Casey Patterson, and Chase Budinger. I even got the opportunity this year to go solo in the box of my first AVP event. All because Ryan continued to create opportunities and I continued to work hard to be sure I did my job when I got them. I sure have been fortunate!
So for anyone who tells you that you can't chase your dreams, I say you can! I am lucky enough to get to live out my dreams every day! I wasn't the best volleyball player on the planet. I wasn't even a highly decorated coach when Ryan met me. I was just doing all the right things for all the right reasons and he took a chance on me because of that. Stay humble! Work hard! Be willing to accept that you don't know everything and swallow your pride and ask when you need help!